Emergency Remote Teaching

In a near instant, schools are the world – Universities too – have been faced with the need to turn their teaching digital. An important step for physical distancing that has left all of us – myself included – unsure of how to proceed. Our teaching is so often built upon the principles of face-to-face interaction. Nonverbal cues matter. Interaction and socialization matters. And now, what do we do?

Presently, we are in a time of what some call “Emergency Remote Teaching” — a form of teaching where we are doing what we can, with what we have, with nearly no planning and potentially less-than-ideal implementation in order to provide our students with education and limit the chance of delaying their studies. This is not easy.

“Let’s face it: many of the online learning experiences that instructors will be able to offer their students will not be fully featured or necessarily well planned, and there’s a high probability for suboptimal implementation. We need to recognize that everyone will be doing the best they can, trying to take just the essentials with them as they make a mad dash during the emergency. Thus, the distinction is important between the normal, everyday type of effective online instruction and that which we are doing in a hurry with bare minimum resources and scant time: emergency remote teaching.”


Teachers need support, and they need it quickly. I speak for myself, as a lecturer in higher education, when I say I certainly wasn’t technologically or didactically prepared for this fast change. That is why a team of us – comprised of representatives of the Teaching & Learning Centres at the UvA alongside UvA-IT support staff – founded the Keep on Teaching space: a digital platform for teachers to provide answers and tools they need quickly and efficiently. Published under a Creative Commons License, we welcome all to check out our content and hope that it might help our teachers as they find their way in these unprecedented times.

But, this is just a start. Right now, we are in emergency mode. Looking ahead, we recognize the space to build upon these efforts in robust ways. We also recognize that not all teachers will have the mental (or actual) bandwidth to do this in the same way. With this in mind, we will be working throughout the early summer to develop flexible templates that our teachers can use to help support the likely-need for digital teaching in the months ahead. There is more to come, so if you are a member of the Keep on Teaching community, do make sure to ‘Join’ the page so that you can stay up-to-date on all updates we make.

And remember, you are not teaching at home during a crisis. You are at home, during a crisis, trying to teach. A subtle but important distinction.

Keep on Teaching Team, March 2020

Until then, if you are a teacher reading this, thank you. You are essential to our society.